We’ve come to another school holiday again- another one of these short two week holidays which pass so quickly that by the end of it no one really remembers doing anything important. This holiday, however, is supposed to be slightly different as we have trials coming up shortly after we return to school- I think there’s an expectation that we spend most of it studying *shiver*. Infact, yesterday, our principal even advised us to balance our study with 3 or 4 days of relaxation (or no studying)
I’ll be lucky if I even get 2 days of studying done.
Which will inevitably end up with me staying at home on the last day of the holidays trying to finish whatever homework was set, wishing that I’d done it before so that I wouldn’t have to stay up til midnight doing it. It happens every time =]
It’s funny how it only seems like a couple of weeks ago that we started off this term. I still remember sitting in front of the computer, and writing out my Cocktail Buns post after school a couple of months ago, excited about all the recipes I’d try during the holidays and all the activities I’d planned to do. And now, I’m sitting here doing almost the same thing .
Time plays funny tricks on me though- whilst it has flown by incredibly quickly, at times it passes painstakingly slowly. Take yesterday for instance, when I was sitting in my physics class, slowly counting the last 7 minutes until I could go home. Those 7 minutes felt so long! Not that I should be complaining- I got to leave school 2 hours earlier than everyone else =]
But then again, time plays funny tricks on me all the time- in the kitchen, twenty minutes passes in a flash when I’m whipping up a cake batter, but seems to take forever whilst waiting for a cake to cool. Which is why I love baking things which can be eaten (almost) straight from the oven- even if they burn my tongue =] I guess that’s one of the reasons I love baking bread.
There’s still so much for me to learn when it comes to bread baking, (and baking in general) so it was about time I tried something new with bread. Not simply a new recipe, but a new technique, known as the water roux method. Instead of throwing all the ingredients together, this requires the flour to be cooked in water to form a paste to be added to the dough. Whilst this doesn’t sound too exciting, it seemed more fun than the normal method, and I’d read that it produces a very soft and fluffy bun too!
I love the versatility of Asian bread dough- it’s amazing how one simple bread dough can be made into a billion different types of buns, each so different from one another. Infact, so different that I once thought that each type of bun used a different dough altogether! I was shocked when I first bought a book on Asian breads, to find that out of the hundred or so recipes in there, that they all used the same bread dough recipe! For my first attempt at this dough, I thought I’d keep it simple and make my favourite- coconut roll buns.
When we first saw these buns at an Asian bakery, my mum told me of how she used to love to eat them when she was young. The coconut buns sold in bakeries in Hong Kong were much larger (and cheaper) than these ones in Sydney and unravelling such a large bun was not only fun but extremely satisfying. Unfortunately, coconut buns of such size are nowhere to be found in Sydney but a smaller, ‘standard’ sized version can be found in most Hong Kong style bakeries, as all the breads are usually the same size. The filling is much like that of a cocktail bun, only less buttery but tastes just as good. I’ve also found that they taste best after a little heating up in the toaster- drying up the coconut a little bit and giving the bun a little crunchiness on the crust!
Since I couldn’t find any large coconut roll buns here, I decided to make jumbo sized buns with this bread dough. The dough was not too difficult to make, although heating the roux up to 65 degrees was a little more difficult that I thought it’d be because it’s hard to mix with a spoon, hold a thermometer and read it at the same time. And then I accidentally turned off the heat when it was 60 degrees so I had to start again (I don’t actually think it would have made a difference though). The dough turned out too wet and I ended up hand kneading it for half the time, to get the right stickiness (which took forever….)
In the end, I forgot about making huge coconut buns, which may have been easier to shape than these ones because I rolled the dough out too big so I had to flatter them with my palm, which is why the ends stick out (woops =P)
But that’s okay because when I took these out of them oven, they didn’t look too bad- and they smelt delicious! (but then again anything with coconut in it smells delicious) And then, when we pulled apart these buns, still hot (of course), we were pleasantly surprised to find that not only did they taste just like the coconut buns from Asian bakeries, they tasted even better because they were hot soft and fluffy too! They were definitely the softest buns I’ve ever made, and are seriously addictive- we ate almost half the batch straight away (I only made 8 though) despite the fact that dinner was almost ready……
Hong Kong Style Coconut Roll
375g bread flour
100g plain flour
35g milk powder
75g caster sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 sachet (7g or 2 1/2 tsp) instant dry yeast
1 egg, lightly beaten
150ml (approx.) lukewarm water, adjust as necessary
40g butter, cubed
25g (just under 2 tbsp) bread flour
125ml (1/2 cup) water
84g coconut shreds
Some vanilla essence (I used a drop)
Some plum jam/butter
1. To make the roux, mix together the flour and the water and heat over medium heat until it reaches 65 degrees celcius. Turn the heat off and leave to cool until lukewarm
2. To make the dough, mix together all the dry ingredients and make a well in the middle of the mixture. Add the egg and the water roux and mix. Add the water until a soft dough it formed and then knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic (~10 min) Knead in the butter until it is incorporated. If making it in a breadmachine, put in all the water and dry ingredients and let it knead for a while. Add the water roux and let it knead, adding water or flour as necessary. Add the butter when the dough becomes smooth (~10minutes). For more detailed instructions, go to Corner Cafe
3. Place the dough in a warm spot to rise until double its size (~1 hour)
4. To make the filling, mix all ingredients (except egg) together
5. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and roll one portion into a rectangle. You can roll the rectangle into as long as you want but don’t let the width exceed 15cm (or else it will tuen out the wrong size). Brush some egg and spread a quater of he filling on top, roll the dough up like a swiss roll and cut into four pieces (like pinwheels, I guess). If you accidentally rolled it too wide, you can try flattening the dough with your palm- just press down! Repeat with the other 3 portions of dough. You should end up with 16 buns
6. Place on a baking tray and cover with cling wrap. Let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until double in size (mine took about 2.5 hours….)
7. Brush the top with egg wash and bake at 180oC for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Brush the hot buns with jam or butter immediately after baking.